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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Food Criticism: What are you eating?

I was inspired today to talk about how to deal with unwanted, unwarranted food criticism. This morning I received an email from a client asking for help. It seems like her family, co-workers, and others are interested in her food choices. By interested I mean to say scared, by her unprocessed whole foods. This challenge is something I also deal with a lot. Does this sound familiar? I try my best to keep my food opinions to myself (as much as possible) because I have had a lot of negative experiences myself. It isn't always easy when dealing with family. You want what is best for them whether they are interested or not. And ever since I started eating wholesome foods I feel AMAZING and I want to share. However, I think I am a lot better at keeping to myself these days than I used to be. Of course, sometimes before I even see what someone is eating they think I am judging them (I am thinking of my family). It is a drag. No one wants to be a downer. So on to the irksome question.

What are you eating? followed with a face of disgust or a loud eew sound. Really are we five years old again? I totally get it. I like my food and you like yours. I want to eat loads of veggies, grass-fed meats that were raised humanly without anti-biotics,  and raw butter & cheeses. I enjoy eating whole grains that I get out of the bulk aisle that take a bit more time to prepare, but I feel better eating that kind of fiber. These foods do not have marketing executives backing them. No one is making huge amounts of money off of broccoli. If you have ever read anything by Michael Pollan you know that he suggests that you avoid anything that has to be marketed to you, anything that needs convincing (say Coke with vitamins). However, if you enjoy a breakfast of Pop-Tarts and Cherry Coke to get you going. Then by all means enjoy. At least you are eating breakfast.

Here is an example from my life. Head to the work refrigerator and bust out my lunch. Heat it up at the microwave and while I am waiting for my healthy green soup to cook someone looks at my lunch and makes disgusting sounds about what I am about to eat. Their eyes start bugging out of their head, a curled lip, and overall distain for what I am about to eat. It doesn't have to be soup, it could be hummus, seaweed, sardines, kale or whatever leftovers I had. Then comes the next question.

Why are you eating that? I would explain that my homemade soup, hummus, seaweed, sardines, kale or whatever is not processed and full of unwanted sugars, chemicals, artificial flavors, etc...it is also tasty and fulling. Of course, they are not listening they instead either change the subject or zone out. Why did they ask?

So how do I handle the questions?

  • I turn it around and ask them what they are eating? I try to focus on the other person, everyone likes to talk.
  • I sometimes joke that I am eating tree bark, leaves, roots...and then slip in what I am actually eating, which seems normal in comparison.

So the question for you dear readers: How would you advise my client?

Tell me if your food choices ever get heckled and how you have learned to deal with it? I would also like to know how you create a safe space with others to talk about food choices.

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